I am not a Woody Allen fan, yet when I read this quote I had to agree with him. In order to innovate there must be failures. In order for things to change there must be disappointments. And in order to move forward there will inevitably be steps backwards. We forget to educate ourselves and others that failure is part of the success process. It means we tried, it didn’t work, and we kept trying.
I had a colleague who once bragged about never having been a part of any failure. He wore it like a badge of honor. When someone ‘wears’ that as a badge of honor you sort of wince, knowing one of two things. They never did anything just followed along the easy path, or they never accepted and took ownership of their failures because to them it only shows weakness. After I heard them say this a couple times I understood that they were not someone to be trusted. Not admitting failure shows a clear sign of denial or leaving people under the bus along the way. Or it means they are not going to own any of the work for fear of something going wrong. Either way, not a do whatever it takes kind of colleague.
I greatly appreciate it when people openly and honestly talk about their failures. It helps me learn, them process, and allows us to be candid with each other. They have an experience I do not – and they say experience is the best teacher, especially if it is someone else’s experience – so listen and learn. I found out early on it is best to openly admit mistakes, learn from them and then work even harder to make sure they do not happen again. People can respect that. Try, fail, then try again, keep trying, keep failing and keep getting back up. You only fail if you stay on the ground. You cannot innovate, succeed or change anything if you never fail. So fail fast and fail often!